Saturday, December 20, 2008

Heat On Ray Sansom

Florida Democratic Party Chairperson Karen Thurman asked U.S. Attorney Thomas F. Kirwin to investigate House Speaker Ray Sansom.

December 18, 2008
Thomas F. Kirwin
Acting United States Attorney
Northern District of Florida
111 N. Adams Street, 4th Floor Tallahassee, FL 32301

Dear Mr. Kirwin,

I write today to respectfully request a full investigation into a case of alleged public corruption involving Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom.

On the same day that Ray Sansom was sworn in as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Northwest Florida State College announced that Sansom was hired for a part-time, $110,000 per year job. As the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau and other media outlets throughout Florida began investigating, we learned that before taking this job, Sansom delivered more than $25 million to the college and pushed legislation to allow the school to offer 4 year degrees.

The Times/Herald reported that more than $6 million of the money he delivered to the college was to build a hanger at the Destin Airport, on land controlled by Sansom's friend and major donor Jay Odom. Despite being funded by taxpayer dollars, this hanger would be used by Odom most of the time to store his jets according to the Times/Herald, citing documents and Odom's airport operations manager. On December 14, 2008 the Times/Herald reported that they obtained emails between NFSC President Bob Richburg and Sansom, where “Richburg suggested that when they all were together, Sansom should thank the board for "accepting responsibility" for an emergency training center at Destin Airport,” further suggesting that the airport building was to be used by Odom.

Additionally, the Palm Beach Post uncovered the fact that Sansom used his government office to fax in his job application to the college as well.

On December 9th, I called on Governor Charlie Crist to "immediately order the appropriate law enforcement agencies to investigate this matter to clear the ethics cloud around Sansom caused by the appearance of quid-pro-quo corruption." Rather than ordering an investigation, Crist simply said, "Next question," while continuing to defend Ray Sansom. Therefore, I take the extraordinary step today of requesting an investigation of this matter by federal law enforcement authorities.


Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party

Television pundit and fellow Republican Joe Scarborough compared Sansom to indicted Gov. Rod Bladojevich. Scarborough does not believe Sansom got the $110,000-a-year Northwest State College job on merit.

Northwest Florida State College asked for $1 million in appropriations last year. Sansom decided that wasn't enough.

He tacked on an additional $25 million for his future employer and funded a program that would pay his salary.

President Bob Richburg was so impressed by the chairman's work ethic that he gave his college's political ally a $110,000-a-year job without telling a soul.

Can you believe that the same college who benefited so handsomely from Sansom's chairmanship would award him the six-figure job without advertising the position?

What a coincidence!

Sanson cancelled a meeting with Lawton "Bud" Chiles III, in order to avoid media questions.

"The Speaker’s Office has advised me that you requested the opportunity to attend a meeting we had scheduled today with members of the Lawton Chiles family," an aide to Galvano just e-mailed the Sentinel.

"At my recommendation, we are rescheduling the meeting for a future date. Once we are closer to making final budget decisions on the 2008-09 fiscal year spending reductions, the meeting will be more productive. I’ve contacted Ed Chiles, who is a constituent of mine, and made him aware of the need to reschedule. This email is For Your Information. Thank you."

Fortunately for Sansom, Charlie Crist still supports the Speaker.

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